Instead of binding you with religion, Paul said, you were not bound under my leadership. Actually, as an apostle, I will allow myself to be bound for your sake. For the sake of church planting and missions, I will endure whatever hardships come my way because Satan doesn’t want God’s work to advance. If you are living sold out for God, suffering will come. Persecution will come. The world will hate you because of your love for Jesus. It’s guaranteed.
2 Cor 11
28 Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my care for all the churches.
There will be suffering because of Satan’s hostility to the advancing of God’s kingdom in the world. But for Paul, the pastor, his greatest suffering came from attacks from within the church. He could handle the beatings and the starving and the imprisonment and being shipwrecked. What he had a hard time handling was spiritual attacks from Christians or from false teachers who turned Christians against him.
We have to recognize that when Christians fight and slander and mistrust, Satan is at work. 2 Cor 10:3-5–
2 Cor 10
3 For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.
Similar idea in the next chapter, 2 Cor 11:13-14–
2 Cor 11
13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
False apostles are not simply those who have their theology a bit off. They are deceitful workers of Satan himself. Doctrine is important. What we belief as a church is paramount. If we are not careful, we could cross over to the enemy side and unknowingly advance his agenda. It’s hard to tell between a true and false teacher because on the surface, they look very similar. Satan himself disguises himself as an angel of light.
We don’t talk about spiritual warfare enough. But any teaching that places an idea or a person in the position of ultimate significance in lieu of God has demonic origins. The deception enters–2 Cor 11:3–through our minds. Through a false teaching. A slight distortion of the truth. When that thought lingers, it becomes a stronghold.
If you think about all of your destructive habits or negative behavior, I can guarantee that you will be able to trace it back to some stronghold in your mind. A thought pattern. Take for example, a person who wronged you. You could have everything–family, career, money, friends–but why does our mind dwell on people who wrong us? We get stuck on unforgiveness. It becomes a stronghold. A thought pattern that you meditate on day and night. You become enslaved to it. Spiritually, because of that stronghold, God’s love, God’s forgiveness, His purpose for you life, none of it penetrates. Spiritual death eventually sets in.
I want you spend time praying through your strongholds. Thought patterns that you can’t let go of. Thoughts that dominate you and pull you down. You have to wage war in prayer against these strongholds.
Prayer is a powerful weapon that can demolish strongholds. How? 2 Cor 10:5, by–
2 Cor 10
5 …taking every thought captive to obey Christ.
First question to ask yourself, do you want to obey Christ? If you don’t want to obey Christ, then you will not have sufficient motivation to demolish every stronghold by taking every thought captive. Obedience is the fuel, the motivation for doing spiritual battle in prayer. If you can answer yes, I want to obey Christ, how do you take every thought captive? Take a thought–I’ll never forgive blank, I’ll never change in blank, I’ll never become blank, I will never experience victory in this area–take one of those thoughts and take it captive. Bring it to Jesus. Lord, you know I can’t forgive this person. I recognize this as a spiritual stronghold. Help me, Lord. In the name of Jesus, I break this stronghold. By the blood of Jesus, I take this thought captive. It is bound and taken care of in Christ. Protect me from having this thought again. I might not be able to forgive this person but you can, Lord. Please renew my mind with your Word, your promises. In Jesus Name, Amen
When a thought comes in, visualize the Word of God demolishing the fortress where this thought is allowed to live and thrive.
In closing, Paul would not be a popular preacher today. He did not talk exclusively about God’s love and grace and the fact that He has a plan for you. Isn’t God great? No, he called out sin when he saw it. 1 Cor 5 – when he saw a brother in an incestuous, adulterous relationship with his stepmother while his father was still around, he called that man out in front of the entire church and urged him to repent. Paul was not seeking the approval of men.
1 Cor 11 – when brothers and sisters were coming to the Lord’s table and eating up the entire meal so that other members of the church who came later starved, Paul called them to repent.
2 Cor 6 – when Christians were shacking up with non-Christians, he called the people to repent. He wasn’t afraid to grieve people. The full gospel involves both the depths of human sin and the greater love and grace of God that can cover our sin. When we preach the gospel, we have to speak about both sides–our sin and God’s grace.
But Paul did not merely identify sins. He gave us a model to follow in prayer to be victorious over our stubborn, besetting sins. Let’s put this into practice by taking every thought captive in order to obey Christ. Let’s ask God to awaken our eyes to the reality of spiritual battle so that we wouldn’t merely mouth words of repentance. We need to be aware of Satan’s schemes and to battle sin in our lives on our knees.